Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why is All Mid-Priced Furniture Crap?

The excitement never stops here, people. My son, age 12, is about to get the third dresser in his short life. The first one was thoughtfully purchased by friends from our registry at a baby store on Avenue A. It was $400 and doubled as a changing table. Unfortunately, the plywood bottom of one of the drawers fell out almost instantly, and I would drive myself insane trying to keep it pushed in. Two year later, we got a new dresser from Pottery Barn Kids for around $500. It is called the Kendall, and matches his trundle bed.  The finish didn't last very well, and it was starting to get too small for him, and I was considering replacing it. Then a week or so ago, one of the drawers fell off the track and wouldn't go back on. I took a break from ruining everyone's fun to call Pottery Barn. I  had a frustrating conversation with the service agent, who is even better at ruining people's fun than I am. She basically accused me of willfully breaking the thing. Then she said that since the shoddy dresser was 10 years old, I should not be surprised that it is broken. Something about normal wear and tear. Which is just bullshit, and the fact that the majority of the goods we buy quickly fall apart is one reason that our planet is covered with trash.

(I have this Ethan Allen furniture which my mom bought me in the sixties. It is not to my taste, what with the vaguely colonial hardware--I keep meaning to go to Anthropologie and get some more appealing drawer pulls. But this hideous bedroom set is incredibly well-made. The drawers will never fall apart.  I am bound to it, and it to me.)

What to do? I can't bring myself to go to Ethan Allen. I might live in the suburbs and own a kicky pair of floral shorts from Talbots, BUT I DO HAVE MY LIMITS, PEOPLE.

Pottery Barn isn't getting any more of my money, and they have thousands of dollars of it already. I have never bought a single thing at Ikea. It is inexpensive, but anything that cheap, in my opinion, REALLY has to be garbage. And you have to assemble Ikea furniture, which will involve a lot of cursing and frustration on the part of my husband. So, in desperation,  I am about to spend $800 on a dresser from Land of Nod.  I am worried it is going to fall apart too.

Thoughts? Has anyone bought anything at Land of Nod? Any furniture suggestions?

Also,  R.I.P. Helen Gurley Brown, who I am certain never spent much time worrying about the quality of cheap bedroom furniture. She was too busy explaining what we should do on the bedroom furniture. Oh, I am hilarious.

18 comments:

  1. I've had a dresser from Ikea for three years and it's holding up like a champ. The drawers are really deep and it's a pretty heavy piece, I defintely got way more than my $130 out of it: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80159835/
    Only downfall so far is that it took FOREVER to put together by myself, you need a two-person team

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  2. Hi there, just buy old. It lasts forever, and old dressers are cheap to come by at thrift stores & even on ebay. Doubtful he'll care too much what it looks like. Which makes buying one even easier.

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  3. go to the antique mall - there will be many, many dressers there in many different styles - most should be cheaper than pottery barn and will never break

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  4. Yeah, that whole "things are supposed to be crap, just buy more of them" mindset blows in so many ways. I've had mixed experiences with Ikea, but in general I feel like you get what you pay for there. And meatballs, obviously.

    I like the thrift store/ antique mall idea-- it's probably what I'd do if I didn't live near a whole pile of relatives nearby who were happy to dump their spare furniture on me. (Someday I hope to have a decor, but for right now I'm just happy to have a place to sit.)

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  5. thrift store/yard sale/craig's list/antique store! you're going to find something much more interesting, sturdier, and cheaper that way. although, because i'm poor, i still have an ikea bed that i bought almost 20 years ago and have moved three times, and it's absolutely FINE. and it probably cost like $150.

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  6. I agree with everyone else who has already suggested: buy used. Antique or consignment stores, yard/garage sales, ebay, craigslist. I have furnished 85% of my home with secondhand things, and the only pieces I have that I really hate are the ones I bought new. Oh, and I did buy a bookshelf made with reclaimed barnwood that is the sturdiest thing EVER from a place in Brooklyn called Trailer Park.

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  7. What e. et al said--buy a used one from an estate sale or "antique" shop. If that's not an option maybe a plain pine one from some furniture in the raw-type store would do?

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  8. You live in the tri-state area, right? Why not take advantage of your proximity to all of the Amish and go hunt some handmade stuff Upstate?

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  9. I'd buy a solid wood piece off craigslist.

    I have land of nod (beds), not any dressers - but I am guessing they have the cheap drawer bottom boards too.

    The dresser my son has is a solid wood piece that was from his now 22 year old cousin, so solid wood gets my vote.

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  10. I hate that I'm about to say this, but don't overlook Sears. OK, I'm going to go sit in the corner and kill myself now.

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  11. Don't hate me, but I kind of love Ikea. Honestly, it's a third of the price of pottery barn and basically in 2012 i swear it is made exactly the same as the PB furniture. It's gotten a little better and PB has gotten a lot worse! I'm actually in the market for a new dresser for my 5 year old (her old Ikea one had a HUGE bottom drawer that the bottom just could not stand up to her trillions of pairs of leggings and eventually fell out. Though really, i think she sat in it...but i digress (as i often do)...anyway, I've been looking at West Elm a lot. I really like their stuff.

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  12. Um, did anyone suggest going to a garage or estate sale?? My mom never purchased dressers new and we never had them fall apart. You can find quality, solid wood pieces of furniture sans particle board for less than $100 USD. All you may need to do is sand/refinish, paint and switch out drawer pulls. My dressers are over 50 years old and have survived kids, 10 moves, and a mildew incident. $400 for a dresser and it started falling apart in less than 10 years was a waste of money. In my opinion, hit the secondhand and give new life to a piece that has been retired by someone else.

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  14. The set you have from Ethan Allen that was bought in the '60s is not what you would get there now, their wood furniture is also made in Asia. Best thing to do is find a local woodworker and have it made custom. I had a "baking table" made for my kitchen by a local person and it cost $400 including delivery and it would have cost $800-$1500 at any store (it is big, solid, and beautiful). If you want something to last a long time, don't buy it from high volume retailers.

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  15. I buy Amish made when I can afford it, build my own when I have time, refinish old if I like the piece and sometimes just buy a new piece because I need it now. The new stuff is usually crap even if it is expensive. The stuff the put inside of sofas now is appalling (staples, bad rough cut lumber, sawdust board and cardboard.

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